Nowadays, consumers are savvy. They don’t rely as much on a company’s advertisements to find out about that company. Instead, modern consumers look at online reviews by the company’s current customers. Consumers trust reviews because they view them as more truthful.
Studies show that 84% of Americans are influenced by online reviews when they decide to make a purchase. An astonishing 97% believe the reviews they read are accurate. That means that customer reviews have a great impact on how future customers view your company.
Since your customers will be heavily influenced by online reviews, how do you make sure that they see the most accurate experiences with your company? Follow these simple steps to make customer reviews work for you.
1. Know what your customers are saying about your company.
Customers post reviews on a lot of different websites. To make sure you find all the reviews people post about your company, you’ll have to do some digging. Put your company’s name and “reviews” in an internet search engine to see which review sites come up first. Your potential customers will also see these sites as they search for your company.
Next, find out which review sites frequently cover your industry. Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and Google Places are popular review sites for small businesses.
You should also monitor popular social media and review sites that don’t come up in your internet search.
Be sure to check out the most popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can find out if someone’s been talking about your business by typing a hashtag followed by your company’s name in the search box.
Now that you know where people are talking about your company, bookmark the pages in your browser so you can find them again later. Then set up an alert system to let you know when your company is mentioned on the internet. If you create a Google+ account for yourself or your company, you can use Google alerts. Google will scour the web for mentions of any search term you enter in the search box. You can schedule alerts to be emailed to you daily, weekly, or in real time.
2. Ask for customer reviews.
You have daily contact with your customers. Make it a habit to request online reviews at the end of your service. You can have cards printed up with a web address of a review site or send a reminder email requesting feedback.
Of course, not every customer will follow through and leave a review. But if you remember to ask, many customers who never would have considered posting a review online will do it.
3. Create a space for customers to post reviews.
You want your satisfied customers to post reviews about their good experiences. The best way to encourage them to do that (beyond just asking them) is to create a space they can easily find and where they can easily contribute. If you create more spaces for customers to respond to your business, you’ll increase your web presence, make it easier for new customers to find you, and receive more positive web reviews.
Start by listing your company on review sites specific to your industry. Create a listing on Google Places, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau website.
You should also consider getting involved in social media. Create a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Google+ page. Invite friends, family, and happy customers to connect with you on your social media platforms. Encourage them to mention the positive experiences they’ve had with your company.
You can also create a page on your company website with a comment box. Include an invitation to your customers to post feedback about their experiences.
The great thing about social media and comments on your own site is that you can review what customers write. If you receive spam, abusive or false reviews, or inappropriate content, you can delete it.
4. Respond to customer reviews.
Once you’ve found customer reviews online, you ought to acknowledge them. When a company responds to an online review, consumers see that the company cares about what its customers think.
You won’t always get glowing reviews of your company’s service. You’ll more likely get a mix of positive, negative, and spam reviews:
If a customer is happy with your service, a simple “Thank you” will do the trick. Go ahead and personalize your response based on what the customer says.
Pro tip: You can also use these positive reviews as testimonials on your website or social media pages.
If a customer is unhappy with your service, thank him for his feedback. Reassure him that you are doing everything you can to ensure he and other customers have positive experiences in the future. Use the negative review as an opportunity to show your customers that you are always striving to make your business better.
Sometimes reviews are so spiteful, they seem to be written only to harm your overall ratings. The best thing to do in this situation is take the high road. If the site has overwhelmingly positive reviews of your business, invite viewers to read your other five-star reviews.
Don’t offer a discount or other compensation for a customer’s bad experience. You could encourage scammers to leave more bad reviews to get free stuff.
Remember, there’s no need to respond to every single review you find. If you address a good mix of the good, bad, and spammy, you should be able to show your customers you value their opinions.
The way you present your company online can help or harm your bottom line. It’s never too early to start curating your online presence. For more tips and tricks on the best online practices for small businesses, check out our blog for regular updates.